Wharton Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership (IEGL) Annual Conference: "The End of the World as We Know It? The Consequences of Extreme Climatic Disruption for Business and Democracy."

Wharton School

Huntsman Hall

38th and Walnut Streets

Philadelphia, PA 19104



Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership

11th Annual Conference

Co-sponsored with:

Andrea Mitchell Center for the Study of Democracy, Penn Program in Environmental Humanities, Risk Management and Decision Processes Center, and the Zicklin Center for Business Ethics Research

In the wake of a number of extreme weather events in 2017 that are likely to have been either caused or made more severe by climate change and global warming, including Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose, and Maria in the Atlantic Ocean, record-setting wildfires in the western United States, and record-breaking monsoons in Asia, this conference examines the future consequences of an increasing expected frequency of extreme weather events for two of the most fundamental institutions of our civilization: free enterprise and democratic government. The conference will gather experts from academia, business, the military, and national intelligence services to realistically and seriously assess the risks associated with these kinds of extreme weather events and their social consequences, and propose risk management strategies for reducing future losses that are likely to be implemented.

The Paris Agreement gave reason for some optimism that world leaders and almost all nation-states would commit to meaningful reductions of greenhouse gas emissions and other mitigation of the causes of climate change. The Trump Administration’s asserted intention to withdraw from Paris, however, suggests that at least the second largest emitter (behind China) may not adhere to previous commitments made by the United States. Other nation-states may find reason to follow this precedent. In addition, many scientists believe that the mitigation targets of Paris were in any event too modest to prevent serious adverse consequences with respect to extreme weather events.

This conference takes seriously the possibility that the world will not adequately mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and other causes of climate change. A focus on adaptation and other measures is then required. This conference will focus on ways that individuals, communities, and countries are currently managing the changing nature of extreme events. Attention will be given to why individuals and business firms underprepare for disasters and how we can provide short-term incentives and frame the problem in ways that are likely to undertake cost-effective adaptive measures now to preserve communities or relocate to safer places. The economic, social, and political impacts of such changes would be substantial.

We do not aim in this conference to generate fear and foreboding about the future – or to use scare tactics to advance a political agenda. Instead, the conference is expected to take a serious and objective look at likely consequences in a future of more extreme weather events and to think about possible responses that may be planned to make our institutions of business and democracy more resilient in the face of these challenges.

Wednesday April 18, 8:30am

8:30 – 9:00                  Registration & Breakfast

9:00 – 9:05                  Conference Introduction: Eric Orts, Faculty Director of Wharton IGEL

                                    Welcome: Wendell Pritchett, University Provost

9:15 – 9:30                  Opening Keynote: Colby Manwaring, CEO, Innovyze

9:30 – 9:40                  Questions & Audience Participation

9:40 – 10:50                Panel One: Business Perspectives                                                                          


                                    Gary Survis, Senior IGEL fellow


                                    Elinor Haider, Vice President, Veolia North America

                                    Lisa Manley, Director Sustainability Engagement, Mars

                                     Sanjay Patnaik, Assistant Professor of Strategic Management & Public Policy, George Washington University

                                    Jacqueline Mayan, Senior Manager, Eastern Shore Natural Gas at Chesapeake Utilities 

                                    Anthony Wagar, Executive Vice President, Environmental Practice, Willis Towers Watson

                                                                                                                                                                                                               10:50 – 11:00              Questions & Audience Participation

11:00 – 11:20               Networking Break

11:20 – 11:45               Morning Keynote: Erica Ocampo, Sustainability Strategy Manager, Dow Chemical Company

11:45-12:00                 Questions & Audience Participation

12:00 – 1:15               Panel Two: Academic Perspectives


                                    Eric Orts, Faculty Director of Wharton IGEL  


                                    David Grinspoon, Chief Scientist, Planetary Science Institute

                                    Carolyn Kousky, Director for Policy Research and Engagement, Wharton Risk Center

                                    Howard Kunreuther, James G. Dinan Professor, co-director, Wharton Risk Management and Decision      Processes Center

                                    Edna Odhiambo, Tutorial Fellow, University of Nairobi

                                    Edward L. Rubin, Vanderbilt University Faculty                                   

                                    Bethany Wiggin, Director, Penn Program in Environmental Humanities                                                                                 

1:15 – 1:30                   Questions & Audience Participation   

1:30 – 2:15                   Networking Lunch

2:15- 3:15                     Panel Three – National Security Perspectives


                                    Sarah Light, Wharton Faculty


                                    Mark Nevitt, Penn Law Faculty

                                    Ann C. Phillips, Rear Admiral, U.S. Navy (Retired)

                                    Christopher Rohner, Business Continuity Program Manager, General Dynamics Information Technology      (Formerly CSRA)       

3:15 – 3:30                 Questions & Audience Participation

3:30 – 4:00                 Closing Keynote:

                                    Margaret Leinen, Vice Chancellor/Director, Scripps Institution of Oceanography

4:00 – 5:00                 Networking Reception